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Dustin Lance Black on Growing Up Gay and Mormon

Harry Borden

 "I thought if I fell in love, I would go to hell, bring shame to my family, be bashed or be killed." 

Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black chatted with HuffPostUk for its Loud and Proud series. Black discussed experiencing suicidal thoughts as a younger man, and how he struggled with his sexuality, while growing up in a Mormon and military household in Texas.

"From the military environment, it'd been made clear that I was definitely somebody to be excluded and, being from the South, that I would bring shame to my family if any body found out."

Black continued:

"So I thought if I fell in love, I would go to hell, bring shame to my family, be bashed or be killed. That removes the possibility of love from someone's entire life and replaces it with shame. As a young kid, you start to contemplate solutions for making this living thing shorter, I certainly did, and I know I'm not alone."

But when Black relocated to the Bay Area, he found solace in the theater world of San Francisco and refuge in learning about gay activists like Harvey Milk (whose biopic he'd later write and win an Academy Award for).

"I was very lucky to hear the story of Harvey Milk, it was life-saving for me. I wanted to share it in case it helped others, but the story of one gay man isn't going to do it."

Black urges us about the importance of LGBT history.

"Until recently, Hollywood wasn't there to support a production of easily accessible hero journeys for LGBT people. I think it's incredibly important for young people who, as they come of age and might start hearing negative messages about who they are, that they also have a history of their forefathers and foremothers that they can draw inspiration from."

After much struggle and soul-searching, Black reached a new understanding of his life. "All of a sudden, I wasn't thinking, how can I hide, how can I survive? I realized I could move to LA, and start telling stories."

Read more at HuffPostUK.

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